Perth Footy Live Rd 3: B Grade Whitford v Swan Athletic
~ A Recap by Downsey ~
If last week gave us perfect post-Covid weather, then this week gave us the sniffles that come before a cold. It was a drizzly day down at MacDonald Reserve, where Perth Footy Live’s portable canopy was put to the test while we covered the B Grade Whitford Warriors versus Swan Athletic game. Fortunately, the canopy held up well, but not so much the home team who recorded their first loss of the season by a close margin of seven points.
But, more on the game and the magic people of grassroots footy after my first dig of the recap.
Having come off a solid opener with last week’s recap, Cam suggested to me that I might have set the bar too high. I’d like to reassure my panellists that, unlike them, I can keep my gags fresh. I rarely have to rely on recycled jokes. To the reader, if that one-two punch gets past the editing stage, I’ll be raising my eyebrows as much as you!
To be honest, I find it hard to recall a time I’ve laughed as much during a two-hour period than when I’m with the Perth Footy Live team and the local characters we interview whose loyalty brings life to community footy. The fellas even managed to make Tom Tapping smile – the brain child behind Perth Footy Live – even though he was, according to Macca, “rustier than a Lake Ballard statue.” If you’ve got no idea how that joke works, I’ll save you from googling Lake Ballard because I already did; it’s a salt lake in the Shire of Menzies.
Now that I’ve done my best to avoid getting the boot from my ‘work experience’ job, onto some of the people we interviewed who are what our broadcast is all about.
We started with a heavy hitter, General Manager of Perth Football League, Dave Armstrong. Important people scare the living daylights out of me, so I made myself scarce during this interview. I might not be able to run up and down the oval as quickly as Troy Skilton, #10 for Whitford Warriors, but I can certainly burrow like a wombat during a bushfire when needed.
The impact of Covid was an immediate talking point, and Dave gave credit to the work of the league’s boards over the last 20 years whose exemplary fiscal management has afforded them the ability to respond during this crisis with a reduction in team fees.
As Cam noted, more than ever it’s important for communities to reconnect with their club environments. Our wellbeing is buoyed by the camaraderie and mateship intrinsic to footy, and nothing frightens away ills quicker than a chat over a round of Carlton Draught.
Dave also spoke about how essential it is to the sustainability of footy clubs to embrace women’s footy. Both Whitford Warriors and Swan Athletic can attest to this.
The Warriors have had a strategic plan in place for some time now to introduce a women’s team in 2021 to align with the development of the junior girls’ competition in the district. Swan Athletic debuted their women’s team this season, and president, Steve Bertoli, explained that it was a goal two-years in the making that has brought a valuable dynamic to their club.
The Swan Athletic’s president was another big wig we spoke to. Aside from discussion about the inaugural women’s team, Steve expanded on Dave’s earlier comments about Covid challenges. He added that the administrative difficulties of pushing for a return to footy were easily forgotten once his players got back on the track and the club came to life again. He also gave a shout out to the club’s critical volunteers and sponsors, such as long-time sponsors, Midway Ford and Ross’s Auctioneers & Valuers.
One comment that stood out to me while talking to Steve was the importance of word-of-mouth, and how powerful this can be in a district where your club is well regarded. It’s easy to see why they have a strong reputation when the president makes statements like, “The guernseys are the same at Swan Athletic. There’s no differentiating between male and female players, they’re all one club.”
The end of our chat with Steve coincided with the end of the first quarter, and at this point in time the Warriors were still in front and the rain was staying at bay.
The break gave new expert panellist, Ward Harris, an opportunity to point out a few Warriors players who had been involved at West Perth Falcons in previous years. He spoke with fondness about these players mentioning their positive contributions to grassroots footy, “They’re still professionals when they come down [and] for them to bring that experience is just exceptional for local footy.”
Apparently Razor Ray Bartholomew also brings his good looks to grassroots footy, but until I see a headshot I can’t confirm that.
As fans of the cheeky dig here at Perth Footy Live, there was one Warriors player, #18 Fraser Foley, who was called out by his girlfriend, Jasmine. Jasmine plays in C3 for Wanneroo and while interviewing her about women’s footy, she happened to describe Fraser as “the big red head”. Now, because I asserted earlier that I don’t have to rely on recycled jokes, I’m just going to leave the description of Fraser at that; the big red head.
Kevin Burns, president of Whitford Warriors, joined us next and Kevin is a man with a plan. He’s also a man with an Anne. Anne is Kevin’s mum, and she makes the scones sold out of their canteen. We were treated to them at the end of the game, resulting in the controversial addition of points after the siren to the free feed ladder.
I’m sure Kevin wouldn’t mind me indulging his canteen team before I discuss his interview, so shout out to the people who served us some good ol’ fashioned beef gravy rolls. The beef in the rolls is testament to the Warriors’ community connections, with Col Grossman from Mindarie Gourmet Butchers making sure the canteen gets the best cuts.
I have to add here that I was impressed with the range of food on offer by the canteen. They’ve got a list as long as the arms of Christopher Keunen, #20 for Whitford Warriors. At least, the list is certainly longer than Rocket Man’s arms, which are akin to those of a T-Rex. If you’ve ever seen him try to wrestle a head-set on, then you understand what I mean.
Back to the man with a plan. Kevin detailed the strong plans the Warriors have in place for the development of their footy club and the creation of internal pathways for the youth coming out of the district’s junior clubs. As he enthused, “Amateur footy is alive and well.” Perth Footy Live unequivocally agrees.
Cam also put his money on Whitford getting the call up to A Grade next year, and from the president’s considered, strategic and passionate discussion about his club, I’m backing them too.
Now, the second half of the match became much heavier under foot and each side had to fight hard for ground gained. Unfortunately, the home side missed out by 7 points on the Prestige Property scoreboard.
After another high spirited afternoon watching a Perth Football League game, I was even more impressed by the people who drive community footy. Like a martini glass, MacDonald Reserve is rimmed with salt-of-the earth people, and they’re probably all sitting in the Warrior’s clubrooms right now enjoying Anne’s scones, and perhaps something a bit stronger than a cup of tea.
Next week you’ll find us at Carine Open Space live streaming the C2 Grade Hamersley Carine versus Swan Valley at 2:45 onwards.